What an incredible year 2021 was for music. From the biggest bands in the world to the bedroom single person projects, there have been some incredible EPs this year. So many, in fact, that narrowing it down to just 10 each was one of the hardest things we’ve done this year. We managed it though! Below, you can read both Brendan and Carl’s top 10 EPs of 2021. Enjoy. We sure did.
Carl: Number 10 – Djinova – Apocalypsis Infinitum (Self Released)
Djinova are a four-piece death metal band from the UK Midlands who have been going from strength to strength over the last few years. The group unleashed their debut EP ‘Apocalypsis Infinitum’ this year.
Old-school death metal, new-school death metal, a bit of deathcore and plenty of passion, results in one of the finest heavy EPs of 2021. Djinova have been tearing it up live for some time now and this release just confirms what many already know about them.
Four tracks of fiery death metal ferocity, Djinova start off hot and don’t cool off for even a second. From ripping riffs and tearing hooks, to pulverising drumming, to a scathing vocal style… this is class. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number – 10 – Demonstealer – The Holocene Termination (Demonstealer Records)
A project from the heart and mind of the supremely talented Sahil Makhija, The Holocene Termination from Demonstealer also ups the excitement by loading up on a ton of special guests from bands like Fleshgod Apocalypse, Marduk, Six Feet Under and many more.
Viciously heavy and almost unrelenting, The Holocene Termination is 4 tracks of immense quality with ferocious vocals and frenetic music combining to leave you feeling a little shell shocked and very, very much awake, and attentive. Don’t think this is just nonstop aggression though (okay it mostly is) but within the riffs, the glorious cleans from Veronica Bordacchini on the last track and the soloing, there is a lot of beauty too. My lasting thought coming out of this intense death metal attack was how much I would love to see an album, or even just another EP in the future because The Holocene Termination is very special. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 9 – Wall – Wall (APF Records)
Elliot and Ryan Cole’s latest project Wall was conceived during lockdown. Frustrated at not being able to tour, and stuck at home together, Elliot and Ryan found themselves seeking a substantially creative way to kill the boredom. The end result was the debut self-titled EP of Wall.
The brothers Cole have taken their love of all thing’s stoner, sludgy and doomy and crafted a thumping debut EP. Rooted in doom, sludge and stoner groove. If those three styles, amalgamated by a very capable band, are up your street then you won’t want to miss out on this release. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 9 – Wolfheart – Skull Soldiers (Napalm Records)
Finnish death metal band, Wolfheart, released a new EP on the 5th of March via Napalm Records called Skull Soldiers. A top quality release full of bleak darkness and coldness that manages to conjure up images of freezing battle grounds and icy landscapes, all wrapped up in riffs and blasting drums that spew forth battle images. It’s dark and heavy but not without melody and groove elements too. Take the acoustic version of their well know Aeon of Cold, to see just how melodic and gorgeous this style of music can be. While the EP only offers two new tracks with the others being an acoustic version and a live version of Reaper, there is more than enough on here to wow and get you pumped up. Also, the live version of Reaper is fucking excellent. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 8 – Nordjevel – Fenrir (Indie Recordings)
Norwegian black metal band, Nordjevel, released their brand new EP titled Fenrir.
Black metal intensity by a band capable of making it listenable and very exciting. That’s before we even get to their excellent cover of Fallen Angel (Possessed). A brilliant EP of high quality black metal. a worthy addition to this list. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 8 – Ingested – Stinking Cesspool of Liquefied Human Remnants (Unique Leader)
I remember well reading the title of this EP and thinking, well, I have to check this out. That’s some quality marketing right there! The British death metal icons, Ingested rereleased their debut EP ‘Stinking Cesspool of Liquefied Human Remnants’ remixed and mastered on January 15th 2021 via Unique Leader. Now I know it is a re-release but simply put, I had never heard the original, so this was brand new to me. This stuff is raw, heavy, and pretty damaging to listen too in the best way. Brutality rains down on you from the first second to the last. While the band became just a little more refined with age, seeing this starting point and knowing the evolution adds another special touch to this raging ball of fire.
Carl: Number 7 – Worn Out – Waste (Self Released)
Irish hardcore band, Worn Out released their brand-new EP, Waste.
Fucking chaotic. Worn Out’s new EP is fucking chaos and it is great. An EP where you smell the sweat, blood, and piss… such is the intensity of this band. Modern hardcore at its best and one of 2021’s finest EPs. We can’t wait to see what these guys do next. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 7 – Bodom After Midnight – Paint the Sky with Blood (Napalm Records)
On April 23rd, 2021, melodic death metal pillar Bodom After Midnight released their new EP, Paint the Sky with Blood, via Napalm Records. An EP that was meant to herald the dawning of a new chapter for Alexi Laiho after the split with Children of Bodom and instead became a heart-breaking goodbye as he sadly passed away. I am/was a big fan of Bodom but also a big fan of Alexi and so this EP has too much emotional attachment for me to ignore it. Musically, it is a great release, feeling as much like Bodom as a Bodom release. High energy, guitar driven melodeath – just what I love – while also being a farewell to a true icon of metal. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 6 – Novere – Soulless Elements (Self Released)
Novere’s roots are anchored in a soil of early post-metal, exploring the universe of human emotions and mental struggles, mixing elements of doom, black metal and post-rock.
A 3-track EP of melancholic heaviness, Novere combine different metal genres to create their own despondent but infectious sound. Wow. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 6 – Jointhugger – Reaper Season (Majestic Mountain Records)
Norwegian doomsters, Jointhugger, released their new single track EP titled Reaper Season on the 2nd of April via Majestic Mountain Records. A single 18-minute-long track exploring doom and sludgy sounds is not my go to area, but Reaper Season blew my socks off. A gentle starter that transitions constantly and cleverly across the mammoth journey of a song really does showcase immense talent. It drenches you in a weighty atmosphere but never to the point of drowning, occasionally pulling you back from the brink with a little melody, or solo or burst of vocals. Clever, impactful stuff from a band obviously oozing talent. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 5 – Demonstealer – The Holocene Termination (Demonstealer Records)
Sahil Makhija, better known as Demonstealer, has long been one of the pillars of the heavy metal scene in India. He returned, with his brilliant new EP The Holocene Termination.
If the immeasurable talents of Sahil Makhija wasn’t enough to get excited by a new Demonstealer release, the wealth of guests that join him on this EP, is.
Four tracks long, four beastly slabs of death metal, four tracks to make you grimace and gurn with pleasure. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 5 – Insomnium – Argent Moon (Century Media Records)
Insomnium dropped a brand new 4-track EP called ‘Argent Moon’ on September 17th via Century Media Records. The groups heartfelt, melancholic sound has wowed fans around the world though not always for me. This time, for whatever reason, it clicked and I came to love the morose beauty dripping from Argent Moon. The EP feels real – very open and very emotional but aside from that there is a ton of weighty heaviness and quality guitarwork. Its an impressive piece of art and one that impressed me enough to have me relisten to their other works in the hope I now get it. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 4 – Exhumed – Worming (Relapse Records)
Exhumed dropped an unexpected EP called Worming that hits hard and heavy with controlled brutality.
Oof, this one is painful to listen too but man, is it compelling. A short statement of horrible intent. it is rough, nasty and uncouth but also to the point. With 4 tracks and a 10 minute run time, it blows the cobwebs off in a blast of quality death metal. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 4 – Nordjevel – Fenrir (Indie Recordings)
Norwegian black metal band, Nordjevel, released their brand new EP titled Fenrir on the 7th May via Indie Recordings. Despite being rooted in the traditional sound, there is a modern edge to the production that is welcome. The guitars sound brilliant, adding a dark melody over the vicious guttural vocals and violent rhythm section. plenty of the intense dark aggression but with moments of intense groove and melody. The solos being one such mesmerising moment but also the sections were the drums kick into overdrive while the guitars drop a grooving riff all over us. It’s so heavy, the vocals are intense, and the music seems to engulf you, but you still will find yourself tapping your foot along with the moments of insane catchiness. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 3 – Sepulchre by the Sea – Ratiocinations (Self Released)
Sepulchre by the Sea released a new blistering 3 track EP, Ratiocinations.
Following on from November 2020’s excellent Conqueror Worm, an album we described as unforgettable, Sepulchre by the Sea has 3 new tracks to offer the world. 3 more genre-bending tracks that ooze atmosphere and showcase a continuation of Sepulchre by the Sea’s concentrated depth.
A hefty amount of atmospheric black metal mixed with a slathering of shoegaze. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 3 – Exhumed – Worming (Relapse Records)
US based gore/grind metallers Exhumed dropped an unexpected EP called Worming on the 22nd of October via Relapse Records. Worming is typically rough and to the point. With 4 tracks and just a 10 minute run time, it blows the cobwebs off in a blast of quality death metal. A short but intent statement from Exhumed, a band with untold experience and quality. Its dark, heavy, and brilliant showcasing how to be extreme but also how to control it to ensure your songs are not just heavy for the sake of heavy. This is clever stuff mixing extreme aggression with intelligent transitions to keep each song, no matter how short, feeling fresh and exciting throughout. Read our full review here.
2. Insomnium – Argent Moon (Century Media Records)
Following up 2019’s acclaimed album ‘Heart Like A Grave’, Insomnium returned with a brand new 4-track EP called ‘Argent Moon’.
Misery loves company and what great company have Insomnium proven to be over the years. The groups heartfelt, melancholic and heavy sound has wowed fans around the world and once again; despair, anguish and cold beauty oozes from their new music.
Four despondent tracks of Insomnium controlled gorgeous harmonious heaviness. Best of EP of 2021? It’s in with a shout – provided you can enjoy beautiful misery. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 2 – Gaahls Wyrd – The Humming Mountain (Season of Mist)
Ex Gorgoroth’s Gaahl blew me away with this progressive and expansive release in early November. Gaahls Wyrd is a deep and thought-provoking release. It is very layered and holds real depth. I never knew or wanted to know what was going to happen next. It is a progressive release, really pushing the envelope of what a fan can expect from “a black metal band” and I love it. The flow of the EP is excellent too with the ending feeling like the culmination of an important mental and metal journey. Read our full review here.
Carl: Number 1 – Voland III: Царепоклонство – Il culto degli Zar (Xenoglossy Productions)
Italian black metal act, Voland return with a brand new EP called ‘Царепоклонство – Il culto degli Zar’. The EP is the evolution of the sound of the band, the union of extreme metal aggression and orchestral symphony.
Voland really impressed us with their 2018 release, Voland 2. An EP that brought epic sounds without the epic lengths. This EP is a bit more of the same but has the black metaller’s stretching their musical muscles to produce something even grander and just as interesting.
The historical side of their music was a real seller on the previously reviewed release and it’s great to see that it is still a prominent feature here. Voland draw from Russia’s history and tell their stories through the medium of intense black metal and lavish symphonic wonder.
More people need to be talking about Voland, they’re amazing. Read our full review here.
Brendan: Number 1 – Oceans – We Are Not Okay (Nuclear Blast)
Austrian/German metal band, Oceans, released their new EP called We Are Not Okay on the 30th of April 2021 via Nuclear Blast. Coming with 4 tracks and 4 guests, 1 per track, We Are Not Okay is a powerful EP that tackles mental health issues, in particular, depression and the quick to prescribe anti-depressant. I knew nothing of Oceans so had no preconceptions and found an EP full of exciting music that changes direction and keeps you on your toes. It’s dark and thought provoking and when it drops, man do they bring the brutality. Around that though are layered and thoughtful songs with huge choruses and impactful vocals aided by, but not dependent on some excellent guest spots. A creative and explosive joy to listen to and one that explores the inner torment of depression and other mental health issues with a delicate but accurate touch. Read our full review here.